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California dentists have a new voice at the table in state government. Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Nader A. Nadershahi, DDS, MBA, EdD, dean of the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to serve on a brand-new council that is responsible for helping to coordinate workforce education and training to meet the state’s health care needs.
Created through 2021 legislation, the Health Workforce Education and Training Council consists of 17 members, including six appointed by Gov. Newsom ― one of whom is Dr. Nadershahi. Members represent various other health professions, including allied health, behavioral health and primary care, as well as graduate training programs.
The appointment comes at an especially critical time, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing or exacerbating staffing issues, including shortages, across all health fields and certainly in dental offices. Hearing members’ concerns and seeing the current health workforce issues, CDA has been engaging with policymakers and advocating for the inclusion of dentistry’s perspective and is pleased with Dr. Nadershahi’s appointment.
“I am looking forward to working with colleagues and leaders across the state to shape the future of our health workforce and education to provide equitable access to quality education, prevention, and care to communities across the state,” said Nadershahi, who currently serves in other leadership roles, including as chair-elect of the Board of the American Dental Education Association.
Some of the council’s duties will include:
The council will prioritize workforce diversity and improving access to and quality of health care for underserved, underrepresented and Medi-Cal populations.
Nadershahi is the second dentist appointed by Gov. Newsom to help inform policymakers and businesses of dentistry’s unique needs related to pandemic recovery and beyond.
In 2020, Natasha Lee, DDS, a past CDA president and current practicing dentist in San Francisco, was appointed to California’s Business and Jobs Recovery Task Force. In her role, she worked with other taskforce members to identify solutions to speed recovery during the COVID-19 recession with an emphasis on the hardest-hit individuals and small businesses.
And throughout the pandemic, CDA and State Dental Director Jay Kumar, DDS, have worked closely on issues ranging from securing clear state regulatory guidance for dentists to advocating to classify dentists as essential health care workers. After the state rolled out its initial COVID-19 vaccine plan, Dr. Kumar was also instrumental in the successful push to move dentists and their staff nearer the top of the list of those eligible to receive the vaccine.
CDA will keep members informed about the new council’s work related to workforce education, staffing and other issues of concern to members.